White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Sunday, July 25, 2010


(JULY 25, 2010) Though hot, in the low 80s, as I began my walk this morning at 6:30, the woods, the sky and the river were full of life.

In the woods I saw a robin moving along, listening, and then pecking the ground, coming up with breakfast, a worm. In the beautiful blue sky I saw an osprey fly over, heading up river, and then swirling downward to another air current, and then flying out of sight. In the river I saw a heron standing on some fallen trees in the river. I moved to the bridge going to the train station and got some interesting shots from above this blue/gray statuesque bird.

The birds were not the only life on the river. Many flowers were in full bloom shouting forth their colors of yellow, purple, blue and white. They provided a lovely contrast to the green foliage along the banks of the river.

As always, the flowers attracted bees and butterflies and other insects finding the aroma and pollen irresistible. The bumble bees hung in all directions around the flowers. They would hang upside down, sideways, inside the flower in an almost embracing position, and would often visit a flower continuing to fly and not stopping to land. Sadie has learned to stay away from these stinging insects, though they present a mighty tempting target for her.

Dragonflies and damselflies are also attracted to the flowers. The damselflies grasp the plant completely enveloping it underneath. Damselflies are more elegant in their positioning. They often just hold on by their legs while their entire body hangs in space; sometimes, however, they do hold on exactly like the dragonflies. Sadie will spend 5-10 minutes pointing at a damselfly when she spots one. Their darting around the leaves and flowers tends to fascinate her.

Butterflies also seem to get her attention. The magnificent colors of these graceful creatures as they move about the leaves and the flowers draw her to them as flowers draw butterflies to them. Today I saw a number of different varieties of butterflies. They are interesting in that they are sometimes very predictable, and at other times they just show up unexpectedly. Usually, on a warm day, they can be spotted on flowers in several select areas of the Riverwalk. Today was not such a day since there were only bees there.

However, a particular brown and white and yellow butterfly was pointed out by a jogger who had stopped to talk with me. She noticed the beautiful butterfly on a tree behind me. I turned and started taking pictures.

Once I got home and looked at the pictures, I noticed that the beautiful butterfly had a tear in its wing and was rather dreary in the texture of its coat, but its color was very attractive.

This butterfly further pointed out to me the second part of Keats' quote (above) - "Beauty [is] truth." For the artist to depict the beauty of nature as it is rather than how he wishes it were, he must recognize that the truth of beauty in nature is that, up close, beauty can have its flaws.

With that butterfly there is something to be learned here as it relates to human nature. All humans, from the New York fashion model to the person with a terribly burned and disfigured face, have beauty. The nature of humankind is that all encompass a special spirit of beauty, and God, if you wish, which makes even the most horrible looking human - beautiful.

As with the butterfly, humans all have flaws; they are not perfect. However, that does not distract from the beauty of humankind. To accept this about beauty is best summed up by John Keats when he concludes in his poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," with:
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

It was another good, but hot, day on the Riverwalk.

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